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Cosmic Origins News

September 4, 2020

Dear Colleague,

The Astrophysics Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate is pleased to announce a call for nominations, including self-nominations, to serve on the Executive Committee (EC) of NASA’s Cosmic Origins Program Analysis Group, or COPAG (http://cor.gsfc.nasa.gov/copag/). A nominal first deadline for applications is September 15. The call for nominations, however, will remain open and accept rolling nominations, as NASA anticipates making several (as many as ten) new appointments to the COPAG Executive Committee. The length of an appointment is flexible and nominally is up to a period of three years.

Background: The Cosmic Origins Program (COR) is one of the three thematic programs that encompass NASA Astrophysics. COR seeks to answer the enduring question “How did we get here?” whereas the other two thematic programs, Exoplanet Exploration (EXeP) and Physics of the Cosmos (PCOS) seek to answer the questions, “Are we alone?” and “How does our Universe work?” respectively. Cosmic Origins is perhaps best captured by this paragraph in NASA’s 30 Year Astrophysics Roadmap, “Enduring Quests, Daring Visions”:

From the moment our ancestors first looked into the night sky and wondered what was out there, our quest to understand the celestial bodies, from our solar system to the first stars and galaxies and everything in between, has been never-ending. Beyond our own solar system, we seek to explore the great variety of stars, their life cycles, and the generation of elements that ultimately made life on Earth possible. While our Milky Way offers us a unique, close-up perspective of the many different environments within a single galaxy, as well as the many individual components that compose a galaxy, there are billions of galaxies in the universe, each one containing billions of stars and having its own unique life history. We want to understand how these galaxies first began to form, how they were constructed, and how they grew and changed over time. In this chapter we continue our quest to understand our origins by expanding our view beyond the exploration of other planets and out to the components of galaxies (stars, clouds of gas and dust, black holes, and dark matter) and the galaxies themselves, from our own Milky Way to the edge of the universe.

To answer these enduring questions, our community needs not only an ambitious and daring vision but also smart, strategic solutions to achieve the vision. As a member of the COPAG EC, you will provide NASA with expert analysis of the science and technology gaps and offer analysis of solutions on how these gaps may be closed to realize the vision for our desired understanding of our Cosmic Origins.

The COPAG is an essential piece of the NASA Astrophysics ecosystem and will be particularly important in the next few years as the Decadal Survey makes its recommendations to NASA and the other agencies. Within COR, NASA anticipates forming a set of science interest groups (SIGs) and science analysis groups (SAGs) that will involve even more members from the community. The COPAG EC will be responsible for synthesizing the analysis of the various SIGs and SAGs. As a COPAG EC member, you will be helping NASA connect to the astrophysics community and analyze how NASA can achieve the recommendations of the Decadal Survey.

Selection of the EC members will be made according to the following criteria:

  1. We desire an EC that is diverse across a variety of axes – race/ethnicity, backgrounds, gender, geography, institution size, academia vs. labs, career stage, breadth of science and technology expertise.
  2. As noted above, we seek EC members who can provide NASA with expert analysis of the science and technology gaps and offer analysis of solutions on how these gaps may be closed to realize the vision for our desired understanding of our Cosmic Origins.
  3. Ideally EC members should also be “connectors” and “communicators”, i.e., be active and engaged in the astrophysics community so that they can help facilitate a vibrant exchange of ideas, information and knowledge between HQ and the broader community.

Nominations, including self-nominations, for the COPAG EC should be submitted via the following form (preferred) or via email to kartik.sheth@nasa.gov. Nominations for EC positions can only be accepted for scientists who reside at a U.S. Institution for the period of the service. The reason for this restriction is that the COPAG EC shapes programs for NASA and therefore has the same restriction as for NASA ROSES submissions. There is no restriction on citizenship.

A current curriculum vita (or a link to it) and a short cover letter that outlines the applicant’s interests in serving on the COPAG are requested. In the cover letter, please indicate what specifically you (or the applicant) would like to contribute to the Cosmic Origins Program and what you (or the applicant) would like to accomplish as a member of the COPAG EC.

Nominations will be evaluated according to the above criteria by NASA HQ. Applications will remain active as selections are made on a rolling basis based on the criteria above and the needs of the COPAG.

In alignment with NASA’s core value of Inclusion, the Cosmic Origins Program seeks to have a membership in its committees and analysis groups that is inclusive and diverse, and seeks to have a program that has transparent and open communications and processes that ensure that all voices are heard.

We look forward to working with all of our stakeholders to continue a robust and compelling Cosmic Origins Program.


Dr. Kartik Sheth
Program Scientist
Science Mission Directorate
NASA Headquarters

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Astrophysics Explorers Announcement of Opportunity Community Announcement »  Details.
17 September 2020
NASA announces major revisions in Astrophysics Research and Analysis opportunity. Due dates remain unchanged. »  Details.
17 September 2020
NASA releases Citizen Science Seed Funding Program opportunity. Notices of Intent requested by 13 October 2020, with proposals due 11 December 2020. »  Details.
4 September 2020
Call for nominations to the Cosmic Origins Program Analysis Group (COPAG) Executive Committee. »  Details.
26 June 2020
Based on extensive feedback from the community, including the recent COPAG survey and APAC discussion, the Astrophysics Data Analysis Program will be solicited in ROSES-2021. »  Details.

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